Immigrants to the "Holy Experiment" of Pennsylvania, Psalm 133:1 "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" - American Minute with Bill Federer

how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Immigrants to the "Holy Experiment" of Pennsylvania Psalm 133:1 Behold

In repayment of a debt owed to Admiral Sir William Penn, King Charles II gave land to the son, William Penn, in 1682.
The land had originally been part of New Sweden, but was taken by the Dutch, who then lost it to the British after the First and Second Anglo-Dutch Wars.
King Charles named it "Pennsylvania" after the father, Admiral Penn, who had helped restore him to the throne after the brief English Commonwealth.
It was an enormous amount of land -- 29 million acres, or 45,000 square miles, making young William Penn the largest non-royalty land owner in the world.
Penn could have personally benefited from this land, but instead he opened it up to those persecuted for their faith. This was an unprecedented endeavor, especially at a time when the world was ruled by kings who determined what their subjects should believe:
  • China was ruled by emperors of the Qing dynasty;
  • Central Asia was ruled by Khans;
  • Russia was ruled by Tsars;
  • India was ruled by Maha Rajas;
  • Persia was ruled by Shahs;
  • Africa, Pacific Islands, Indonesia, Indigenous tribes of the Americas, were ruled by Chieftains;
  • Most of Europe was ruled by kings;
  • The Ottoman Empire was ruled Sultan Mehmed IV, whose 200,000 Ottoman Muslim soldiers were laying siege to Vienna, Austria.
Most countries at that time demanded citizens think and act as the government mandated -- what the king believed his kingdom had to believe.
Penn's colony was to be a "holy experiment" where Christians, Jews, and others who believed in God could live together in religious toleration.
Penn wrote in his Charter of Privileges for Pennsylvanians 1701:
"... because no people can be truly happy though under the greatest enjoyments of civil liberties if abridged of the freedom of their consciences as to their religious profession and worship."
Penn wrote to a friend, January 1, 1681, that for his colony, he would:
“... make and establish such laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in all opposition to all unchristian ... practices.”
Soon there arrived in Pennsylvania:
  • Quakers,
  • Mennonites,
  • Pietists,
  • Amish,
  • Anabaptists,
  • Lutherans,
  • Reformed,
  • Moravians.
From 1700 to 1750, Britain’s laws against dissenters drove some 200,000 Scots and Scots–Irish Presbyterians from Scotland and Ireland to America.
One of the laws was the Riot Act of 1714, which prohibited 12 or more dissenters from meeting together.
Authorities read the Riot Act out loud before ordering everyone to disperse, and arresting those who did not for meeting illegally.
Most Scots and Scots-Irish settled in Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley and in the western counties of Lehigh, Bucks and Lancaster.
Others came, including:
  • German and Swiss New Baptists, or Dunkers,
  • German Baptist Brethren, or Seventh Day Dunkers,
  • Schwenckfelders,
  • French Huguenots. and
  • other Protestant Christians.

 

William Penn died on July 30, 1718.
He had named his capital city Philadelphia, which means "Brotherly Love."
Lutheran missionary Johannes Campanius dedicated Philadelphia's first church, Gloria Dei "Old Swede's" Church in 1646.
Penn's religious tolerance allowed the church to continue, and they erected their present church building in 1698.
Johannes Campanius translated the very first book published in the Algonquin Indian language, Martin Luther's Small Catechism.
In 1695, the Merion Friends (Quaker) Meeting House was built. It is the oldest church building in Pennsylvania and second oldest Friends meeting house in the United States.
In 1695, Philadelphia's Christ Church was built.
It is called "the Nation's Church" as individuals who worshiped there included:
  • George Washington,
  • Betsy Ross,
  • Benjamin and Deborah Franklin, and
  • their daughter, Sarah Franklin Bache, worshiped there.
Others who worshiped at Christ Church included signers of the Declaration of Independence:
  • John Adams,
  • Benjamin Rush,
  • Francis Hopkinson,
  • Joseph Hewes,
  • Robert Morris,
  • James Wilson, and
  • George Ross.
Pennsylvania produced America's first protest against slavery with the Quaker Germantown Petition in 1688, submitted by Francis Daniel Pastorius and three other Quakers. It stated:
"How fearful and fainthearted are many on sea, when they see a strange vessel, --being afraid it should be a Turk, and they should be taken, and sold for slaves into Turkey.
Now what is this better done, as Turks do? Yea, rather it is worse for them, which say they are Christians; for we hear that ye most part of such negroes are brought hither against their will and consent, and that many of them are stolen ...
There is a saying that we shall do to all men like as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent or color they are.
And those who steal or rob men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not all alike? ..."
The Petition continued:
"Here is liberty of conscience which is right and reasonable; here ought to be liberty of ye body ... But to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against.
In Europe there are many oppressed for conscience sake; and here there are those oppressed which are of a black color ...
This makes an ill report in all those countries of Europe, where they hear of, that ye Quakers do here handle men as they handle there ye cattle ...
We ... are against this traffic of men-body. And we who profess that it is not lawful to steal, must, likewise, avoid to purchase such things as are stolen ...
Then is Pennsylvania to have a good report ... in what manner ye Quakers do rule in their province."
Anthony Benezet, a French Protestant Huguenot immigrant who became a Quaker, convinced Pennsylvania Quakers at their yearly meeting in Philadelphia in 1758, to officially go on record as opposing slavery.
Benezet wrote in 1766, "A Caution and Warning to Great Britain ... of the Calamitous State of the Enslaved Negroes":
"Slavery ... contradicted the precepts and example of Christ ...
Bondage ... imposed on the Africans, is absolutely repugnant to justice ... shocking to humanity, violative of every generous sentiment, abhorrent utterly from the Christian religion."
In 1770, Benezet led Quakers to found the Negro School at Philadelphia, being encouraged by both Methodist founder John Wesley and Benjamin Franklin.
In 1775, Anthony Benezet helped found America's first Anti-Slavery Society -- the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage.
17 of the 24 founders were Quakers.
In 1787, the name was changed to the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, and Ben Franklin became its president.

In 1711, Old Trinity Episcopal Church was built in Philadelphia.
In 1732, the Seventh Day Dunkers (German Baptist Brethern) built Ephrata Cloister near Philadelphia.
They had the second German printing press in America.
They published "Martyrs Mirror," the largest book printed in America prior to the Revolutionary War, listing Christian martyrs from Christ until 1660.
Rev. Richard Denton brought the Presbyterian faith to American in 1644.
In 1692, just ten years after the arrival of William Penn, the first Presbyterian Church was organized in Philadelphia, in a building called "Barbadoes Warehouse," being shared with Baptists and Congregationalists.
In 1704, Philadelphia's First Presbyterian Church moved to the corner of Bank Street and High Street (Market), where they built their first church building.
Members of the church included signers of the Declaration of Independence:
  • James Wilson,
  • Dr. Benjamin Rush, and
  • Thomas McKean.
On May 21, 1789, the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America was held at the church in Philadelphia.
The first sermon at that assembly was preached by John Witherspoon, the president of Princeton University and a Signer of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1807, the first African Presbyterian Church was founded by a former slave, John Gloucester.
At the time of the Revolution:
  • 98 percent of the country was Protestant;
  • around 1 percent was Catholic; and
  • one-tenth of one percent was Jewish.
William J. Shepherd, writing for The Catholic University of American, stated in the article "The Archivist’s Nook: Catholic Patriots of the American Revolution" (June 23, 2016):
"Catholics made up only an estimated one percent of the population of the nascent republic. Colonial America was generally prejudiced against Catholics ... with the notable exception of Pennsylvania."
During the colonial era, Catholics were mostly in just two colonies: Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Bishop John Carroll, founder of Georgetown University and cousin of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration, wrote to Rome in 1790:
"The thirteen provinces of North America rejected the yoke of England, they proclaimed, at the same time, freedom of conscience ...
Before this great event, the Catholic faith had penetrated two provinces only, Maryland and Pennsylvania. In all the others the laws against Catholics were in force."
In 1733, Philadelphia allowed the first English-speaking Catholic Church in the world after the Reformation - St. Joseph Church.
It was the only place in the entire British Empire where a public Catholic church service took place legally.
During the Revolution, French Generals Marquis de Lafayette and Comte de Rochambeau worshiped there.
There were only seven Jewish congregations in the colonies prior to the Revolution, two of which were in Pennsylvania:
  • Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia begun in 1740; and
  • Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster, begun in 1747.
The first Jews in America were Sephardic, having fled from Spain, to Portugal, to South America and the West Indies.
From the West Indies, Sephardic Jews came to the colonies of North America, the first of which was New Amsterdam, which became New York.
When the British captured New York in 1776, many Jews fled to Pennsylvania.
Mikveh Israel congregation built the first synagogue building in Philadelphia in 1782.
Contributors to the building fund included:
  • Benjamin Franklin,
  • Robert Morris -Signer of the Declaration, and
  • Haym Solomon, Polish Jew financier of the American Revolution.
Beginning in 1845, Rabbi Isaac Leeser of Mikveh Israel synagogue produced the first Jewish translation of the Bible in English to be published in the United States.
When Mikveh Israel synagogue burned in 1872, Philadelphia's Christ Church contributed to rebuild it.
The two congregations have a long custom of sharing a fellowship-dinner once a year which alternates between their two buildings.
In 1795, the first Ashkenazic Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere was founded in Philadelphia, Congregation Rodeph Shalom.
Pennsylvania's Quakers, Mennonites, Baptists and Methodists led the state to be the first in the nation to pass legislation to end slavery -- The General Abolition Act of 1780.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of the Methodist Episcopal churches in America, with St. George's Church, built in 1769, being the denomination's oldest church building in continuous service in the world.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, sent the church a communion chalice.
The pastor of St. George's was Francis Asbury, the first Methodist bishop.
He traveled 270,000 miles on horseback and ordained more than 4,000 ministers, including Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, the first African American Lay Preachers of Methodism in 1785.
In 1792, Absalom Jones started the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, being the oldest black Episcopal congregation in the United States.
In 1794, Richard Allen started the African Methodist Episcopal Church, building "Mother Bethel," the first A.M.E. Church in America.
In 1796, also out of St. George's, Rev. "Black Harry" Hosier started the African Zoar Church.
St. George's appointed Mary Thorne as the first woman class leader.
The Charter that King Charles II signed and gave to William Penn on March 4, 1681, stated:
"Whereas our trusty and well beloved subject, William Penn, esquire, son and heir of Sir William Penn, deceased, out of a commendable desire to enlarge our English Empire ...
and also to reduce the savage natives by gentle and just manners to the love of civil society and Christian religion, hath humbly besought leave of us to transport an ample colony unto ... parts of America not yet cultivated and planted."
After receiving the Charter, William Penn wrote:
"It is a clear and just thing, and my God who has given it me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation."
William Penn's "Holy Experiment" of "Brotherly Love" resulted in Philadelphia providentially being the birthplace of the nation, as it was there that
  • the Continental Congress met;
  • the Declaration of Independence was signed;
  • the Liberty Bell was rung;
  • the U.S. Constitution was written; and
  • the nation's first Capital was located.
Psalm 133:1 "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
--
American Minute is a registered trademark of William J. Federer. Permission is granted to forward, reprint, or duplicate, with acknowledgment. (wjfederer@gmail.com 314-502-8924)
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